April was a full month in lockdown. A painful time for many people either affected directly or indirectly by the virus. We have all had to live with restrictions that were impossible to contemplate a few short weeks ago.

I have been very lucky because my work can carry on in isolation, not very different from before. I now have my post delivered instead of collecting from the sorting office. That saves five times I could come into contact with people. I hoped to go to the post office to send on perhaps two visits a week. However the demand has been so great that I am going there most days. To begin with, the post was very slow but I think it has got better recently. The longest a letter took was 29 days with many being 7-12 in transit.

Business has been very brisk with several new customers and many returning after a long absence. Not to mention my trusty regulars. All are very welcome.     

UPDATES ON STOCK

Australia. Of course, some new issues have arrived. These include a stamp showing a mail steamer, a mini sheet for the Canberra Stamp Show and three stamps plus a mini sheet for the Queen’s Birthday. There is more on the way but they have been delayed due to postal difficulties.

British Solomon Islands. A one-off collection (with duplication) from 1937 to the 1970s with a number of sets new to stock.

Costa Rica. I am gradually sorting through a recent purchase of 94 stockbooks. The Costa Rica selection was good, although by no means comprehensive. 

Danish West Indies. I have had a smattering of these stamps for some time but my range has grown with this latest lot. It is one of the forgotten areas of philately and ripe for study for those who like that kind of thing!

El Salvador. Another part of the 94 stockbook purchase, these two books greatly expanded my coverage of this tiny country. There were almost no stamps from the Seebeck period (just plenty of mint stamps) but good ranges were found into the modern period.

France. Due to its popularity, I am having to re-order French stamps every month or two. My Parisian contact does an excellent job and is very quick when he sends me material. This time I received part of my order. The rest is delayed due to their lockdown. Much of what I am buying is recent material. As you may remember, at one stage I had stopped stocking France at 2011 but over the last couple of years, I have been catching up. There is still some work to do but my recent French range is now looking healthy despite customers buying these stamps almost as quickly as I can obtain them!  

German States. A few months ago, I bought this fabulous collection of the German States. I am taking it bit by bit and this month the following states were sorted: Baden, Brunswick, Bremen, Schleswig Holstein, Mecklenburg Schwerin, Oldenburg and Saxony.

Hungary. I sorted stamps from 6 books and merged them into existing stock. My Hungarian stock had developed a lot of gaps and these lots filled many of those, especially in the 1940s.   

India. I had bought a nice collection with material from the early issues up to the 1980s and a four stockbook accumulation with the same range plus a few stamps from more recent dates.  

Japan. I am getting to grips with the earlier issues of Japan. This time I priced up stamps from 1872-1896 with more to follow in the next few weeks. 

Norway. Some new issues including anniversaries of two cities (Moss and Bergen), a personalised stamp plus two stamps depicting the Arctic island of Jan Mayen.

Russia. I had various collections and part collections to work on, covering stamps from the first issues up to 1975. My price list stopped previously at 1962 but those 13 extra years showed a lot of stamps! Several gaps in my stock for the 1940s were plugged. 

USA. New material among the old USA has been worked on. I have added some items to robstineextra. 

Vietnam. I started work on this collection of Vietnam last month and have now finished the job. There was quite a lot of material among the unified issues. 

POSTAL SALES

Another huge month with exactly the same number of orders are last months record-breaking total. This is definitely due to the lockdown and the therapeutic effects stamp collecting can bring. Several customers have actually said this is the case. One customer in Sussex told me he now has no weeds in his garden and another in Essex clams to have the tidiest shed in the county and after that what do you do? Get on with your stamp collection of course!  

The Commonwealth was a major contributor again this month with big sales from Australia, Austria, New Zealand, USA, Monaco, Latin America and Portuguese Colonies. There was an upsurge in demand for the various aspects of German philately plus interest in Canada, Czechoslovakia and Ireland. 

STAMP FAIRS

What can I say? I really cannot see Fairs coming back any time soon, so my message to fair goers is to contact me to see if an event is going ahead. I have not heard officially that any future events are cancelled but with social distancing, they ain’t gonna happen! This includes the York Fair in July, although I have not heard a word from the organisers. For the longer term future, I cannot see how we can maintain 2 metres distance at Fairs. 

Several customers from stamp fairs have begun to buy from me through the post and/or the internet. This seems to be the future as far as the next few months are concerned. 

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